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Modern termite control methods aim to prevent infestations in structures, as preventing a termite infestation is less costly and stressful than treating an active infestation. Although barrier and baiting systems currently protect many homes from subterranean termite infestations, the destructive insect pests initiate infestations everyday in the US. Surprisingly, around 6,000 US homes become infested with termites annually, and subterranean termites account for the majority of these infestations, while drywood termite infestations are mainly a concern only in the southern states, and dampwood termites are largely insignificant as structural pests.

Luckily, only one termite species, the eastern subterranean termite, can be found in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this species is the most economically damaging termite species in the US. Termiticide barriers are the most common preventative termite control method in residential areas, and although effective, termite baiting systems are quickly catching up to barriers in terms of popularity. 

While southern states see higher termite infestation rates than northern states, about ⅓ of 6,000 homes located in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern regions of the country are currently inhabited by termite pests. Due to the significant degree of termite pest activity in the northeast, it is in every Massachusetts homeowner’s best interest to invest in termite control. Underground baits are more common and generally more effective than above ground baits, and their installation on a property both prevents termite invasions, and controls active infestations.

Underground termite bait stations are strategically placed around the perimeter of a home, and each station contains a non-poisonous bait made of cellulose, which is the fibrous component in all forms of plant life that termites naturally consume. Initially, underground bait stations are used solely for detecting subterranean termite activity, and each station is regularly (around every three months) inspected for captured specimens. If subterranean termites are captured, the relative abundance of specimens found in each station indicates where around a home the pests are most active. This information is used to maximize treatment efficacy. If specimens are found, a slow-acting insecticide or “insect growth regulator” is placed within the bait stations. Foraging worker termites retrieve the bait, but they do not die immediately; instead, workers live long enough to return to the nest where the slow-acting poison spreads throughout the colony, resulting in complete eradication within a period lasting between a few weeks to a few months.

Were termiticide barriers applied to your property during your home’s construction?